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The cut, the cut, cut, cut, cut, the cut. The cut. This is it, it's officially been a year, an entire year under covid and a bad, hard year for almost every single person in the world. And this is not the Payne Olympics or anything, but producer Bob Parker has really been through it and this week she just wants to get away. Towards the end of last year, I had to go to a gynecologist, I hadn't got my period in two months and I knew I wasn't pregnant.
And as I sat there, I was asked by the doctor if I had any stressors aside from the world imploding. Let's see, you've got a pandemic or racial uprising and global warming's kicking our ass. There's the election workers giving me a stomach ache. I can't visit my family and my dad on Christmas died from covid. So, yeah, I've got stressors, but I didn't realize that could cause my body to just say no. Let me tell you, I have six calming apps on my phone, I do Reiki, I go to virtual church, I talk to my therapist, but none of these things have been able to counteract all the stress.
This past year almost broke me. For months, I've been feeling like a malfunctioning cell phone that needs to be submerged in a bowl of rice assuaged from all this, whatever this is. So I decided to try to get away. I wanted to get out of my head away from everything. So I went to a sensory deprivation tank.
Granted, my only real context for a sensory deprivation tank is The Simpsons. This is kind of relaxing it so I could turn off my brain. The one where Homer and Lisa lay down in those covered water tanks and go on the spiritual journey to understand one another.
I have to start thinking, starting now, I work on an accent, so surely I would reach some kind of spiritual enlightenment, clearing my head of all unnecessary thoughts and then I talk to my ancestors or come up with the next Tesla.
Noticed your thoughts, but don't stay preoccupied with them because like, weird things are going to going to pop up.
Cut writer Allison P. Davis, try to take a while back and wrote an article about it, gave me some pointers. If you just sort of like relax and breathe. You end up in this fugue state anyway. We're like, no thoughts are sort of real. I really do imagine this is like what we were like. We were just floating around that amniotic fluid or whatever. Like you're not really thinking anything coherent is just sort of like whispers of emotions.
And you're in this weird, like half waking, half sleeping place and it's super relaxing because of that.
I can relax. I can totally relax. I need this. I can relax, damn it, then Alison gave me this warning, so I'm in the clamshell pod, but I had this crazy weave at the time and as you know, this is like a lot of extra hair on top of your hair.
So like the saltwater got because it's so much salt to keep you floating. Mm. I like my hair, absorbed it so my head kept slipping under the whole time. I was like struggling to keep my head from like submerging basically and like me drowning. And I couldn't like get into the situation because I was like, oh no, if I relax my neck I'm going to drown because of my hair.
Like, make sure you pull your hair back and tie, maybe braid it, you know, and then go to town. Great.
So I go into this knowing that basically gravity is racist, that it was, oh, I'm going to have a for at the sensory deprivation place a slip my shoes into a little cubby and sit near a woman who was drinking the citrus infused water and journaling, then told to watch a video instructing me to rest easy in the tank. The like don't drown. And I was just laying there naked, floating in an enclosed bathtub full of Epsom salt, wincing at the hidden cuts that I'd missed when I was applying the required Vaseline to hangnails and Macnee, the only thing I could compare it to was the screensaver on an old DVD player where the emblem would bounce from edge to edge and slowly drift from each corner.
Noticing my reflection above me, thinking about work that I needed to finish, and how my thigh gap looked like the Star Trek logo, and how I didn't want to doze off for fear that I'd miss the signal to get out of the tank. And the guy from the front desk would see me passed out naked in a dream tub. covid insult. I wanted to do a good job and I wasn't sure if I did it right. Like, was I supposed to be changed by this experience?
How long were the effects supposed to last? I asked the receptionist on my way out.
Any advice for stepping out into the world to enjoy?
And there was a moment where I did enjoy it, I felt compelled to talk in a whisper, the noises outside were crisper and I loved the feeling of this windy day in Brooklyn. That feeling lasted from the front door of the sensory deprivation place to the subway station. But I made it down the stairs and immediately saw a person with their face mask below their nose, my four black lung victory swiftly became a failure. It was like I had just spent a hundred bucks in an hour and a half of my life literally marinating in my own thoughts.
I don't know why I can't get out of my head, just got in my own way to stop thinking about all of the panic and the loneliness and the cruelty and the heartache that's come from this past year. They'll be great. And that led me to my next questionable idea to try to get away and escape from my own head.
So I just kind of started like micro dosing over the summer and usually with friends, sometimes by myself, but not super, super often go into Cárdenas, a senior culture editor for The Cut and my French exchange, like my text with about Dawson's Creek.
I've always thought of her as this cool girl who does cool shit like casually micro dosing is a treat because it was a way to kind of take me out of my own head and also like.
Was surprisingly fun, like I had some friends who were like, I can't believe you're doing mushrooms this much. And I was like, Yeah, me either.
This whole conversation led me to wonder, Parker, are you going to try mushrooms? You who had yet to figure out how to function when you get just the faintest bits, don't you, who get drunk only to text your mom at 3:00 a.m. to tell your lover you are going to use recreational drugs, all of you.
And I just need to go see a movie. And again, I will pass on inaudible to you. So I was going to take an edible and go to an outdoor movie. I'm bad at taking animals like really bad last March at the start of the pandemic, I tried edibles. I took six of them in two hours because I didn't know you weren't supposed to do that. And I managed to have every awful thought that I have ever had in the world.
God hates me. I'm going to die alone. What's the point of the universe if the sun is going to burn out? Fun stuff like that, all in the span of six minutes. And I forgot how to walk downstairs and yet somehow doing it again didn't seem terrible because it's that thing you immediately think of when you think about a temporary escape. And Carrenza would be there. I'd be OK and be with a friend who knew his shit, I would never eat the full edible until I know if it's one I like or can't handle or whatever.
Now, I'm not promoting drug use here, but I'm not condemning it either. I'm just a girl. And two face masks going to an outdoor movie in the freezing cold to hang out with a coworker she's seen every day on Zoom but has never physically met. Take an edible and not think about her dead dad for a couple hours.
Oh, we watched Hitchcock's Vertigo and Carrenza gave me a tiny edible like a Cymbeline, a piece of a cookie.
You get the one with a little tiny bit of frosting on it, like, no, I haven't tried this one, just like we did.
And it was a slow burn. The subtitle scared me. I'm sorry.
Oh, everything was fine. My butt was frozen to my chair and it was great. Then I got in the car, share home and mid ride completely forgot where I was going, which is scary. I crashed on my bed and I woke up thirteen hours later. I guess there was an escape. It also feels like a coma, an altogether unsustainable, possibly unethical and illegal depending on the state. But then a friend told me about another option to escape out of my own head, a way that doesn't involve expensive tanks and drugs, just an entirely new reality created by sheer force of imagination.
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Keeping you covered is our thing. Feel confident with protection starting at seventy nine dollars per year. Plus, did we mention the discounts like safe driver or bundling go from riding to thriving with the wind at your back and potential savings in your wallet? Get a motorcycle quote in three minutes or less at progressive dotcom progressive casualty insurance company and affiliates annual premium for basic liability policy not available in all states. Discounts not available in all states or situations. Trying to get out of my head to escape from the woes of pandemic life has felt like this uphill battle.
Each attempt was more fraught than the next event. My friend and fellow producer Alice Wilder started sending me these tock videos. You have teenagers doing something called shifting a reality shifter's.
If you want to shift, listen the fuck up all my shifter's. Start scrolling for a sec. I'm probably going to change your life if you don't know.
I shaved it for the first time last night. Very exciting. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Guys, I think I just may have shifted. I don't know if that actually just happened. Like, it feels so surreal.
I was just stumbled across this whole new world on Tic-Tac. I had a video come across my for you page on Tic-Tac that was like, how did reality shift? Like, here's the top methods. And I was like. Excuse me, I watched these scenes will script out a scene with a whole plot and characters often ripped from a book or a movie and then go there.
There is this well established, I don't know what to call it, like practice, I guess, that mostly teenagers have taken on of sort of meditating in a way that gets them to, they believe, mentally shift to the reality of their choosing.
They essentially try to manifest that world until they fall asleep. And in the sleep they enter the reality that they've scripted. It's kind of like intentional daydreaming that becomes sleep dreaming.
And basically the idea is that like you. Shift from your current reality to your desired reality shift and refer to this desired reality as your D-R and your S.R., is this is your current reality? So do your desires where you want to go. So, like a lot of it's about Harry Potter. So he'll be like, oh, my God, I just shifted in like I went to Hogwarts and I played WAP for Professor Snape. And he was like, so horrified, like he hated it.
Oh, my God, Draco's smells so good. Basically, this is like the community of like people who are shifting. It's not just Harry Potter. It's like Twilight. It's like anime. It's, you know, The Hunger Games, which like, why would you want to ship to The Hunger Games? It's literally a dystopia.
Like there's no one shifting into like Pride and Prejudice. I don't even know where I would want to shift to. I love that you didn't go, oh, this is bullshit. And just went straight to where would I go?
I respect the like process. I guess part of me is like, you know, I think it's it's like a wild's concept.
So would you recommend me trying it?
Yeah. I mean, what's the worst case scenario? These troopers who I watch you safeword, so I don't know.
Pick your safeword, Parker Banana Bread Alesund. I decided that as a cool zengel and an old ass millennial respectively, we were going to try to shift, but we needed a little guidance to what our desired realities, you know, totally normal stuff.
There are infinite realities among our own and it can be hard to believe due to the fact that we can't comprehend infinite, but do know that an alternate version of ourselves exists in every single one of them.
OK, so I interviewed this YouTube named Kristen. She's a first year college student and her channel is amazing. She gives like very frank advice about shifting and lots of commentary on it too. She shifts to this anime called My Hero Accademia.
I actually shifted to something called a waiting room, which is a place between your current reality and your desired reality. And I picked it based off of like an anime I like Victorian like Victorian manners and Victorian era stuff. So I just picked a room that was like that theme and I was like, OK, I'm going to wake up there. I'm I have a butler and like, they're going to wake me up and they're going to serve me tea.
And that's literally what happened because I didn't expect it. I and I this dude walked in and I was like, who are you? And like, they're like, I work for you. Yeah, that's exactly like I work for you. What was like I didn't hire you? What do you mean? And he looked and then I kind of teased, did you have it was called Earl Grey. It tastes so good.
I got to say, this has something going for it. It didn't cost anything. It wasn't illegal. Unlike the other things I tried, it did not seem very Grown-Up, very Brooklyn and kind of elitist. I felt more like these kids had managed to find a cheat code by escaping through their own minds. Plus, Earl Grey, real or not, I wanted what they had.
I love when Harry Met Sally and Mike is Mike. It's my favorite movie. Like I wanted to shift to, like the wedding reception at the very end. I just like the idea of, like being at this big festive wedding reception, like puffy sleeves and all of my friends there, you know, just getting to like dance and like celebrate something good happening.
My desired reality sounds swell, actually, with a script and a chant and a nap, I could wake up in a snowed in log cabin by a frozen lake listening to Coltrane while eating waffles with Daniel Kaluuya. So, Alison, I exchanged voice memos over the course of a couple of weeks trying to chronicle our process of learning to shift. I tried shifting last night using, I think, what they call the Raven method, which is where you lay in the starfish shape and then you count up to one hundred and then down from a hundred and nothing happened.
But so it was a wild experience. Like my limbs felt really heavy and I felt this like tingling, like in my forehead, like between my eyes.
I think the tingling is just your third eye.
OK, I'm going to try again tonight and I'm going to remember to record a voice memo after. All right. So too much of my scripting already has been me describing a living room in the cabin. I'm like, so it's open concept. And you can see the kitchen is right behind the living room. So you can see everything.
And there's a fireplace and it's like this of all rows of windows to like breathe in and out and then intersperse formations. Like I have shifted in my desired reality. I can smell my desire, reality like I can. You know, when I wake up, I will be in my desire reality.
So, yeah, I that I do not share that.
I was like, frustrated that I was not shifting.
So I have my script next to me and I'm going to.
Adjustment, Palouse. All right, well, I'm going to shift. To, um, I'm gonna shift. He commissioned. Do you like this reality? No, not at all, I, I absolutely do not like it. You know, in this life I can't really be what I want because I don't really know what I want. Everything here just seems so boring. It's always been boring to me and like monotone. So over there I can have the life I want.
I can help people. I can, you know, have a career that I actually enjoy. And I don't have to worry about the money because, you know, like, I just care about the career and I can be truly happy. And that is why I like when I heard about shifting, I was like, OK, that I actually fell into the trap of, like, trying to use it for escapism. But I realized that was also probably the reason that I wasn't shifting because I was just so obsessed with just that's the only thing that matters in my life now.
And you shut it literally escaped this reality. I think a lot of people automatically trying to cancel out this reality. And you can't do that like this. I mean, this world is hella traumatic, if I do say so myself. Do you have to accept it in order to move on or to be able to go wherever you want? All this time, I kept thinking about ways to escape, and that somehow was preventing me from actually escaping, I was so focused on needing to get away to my desired reality now, because then this past year, I can finally fade away.
What I'm actually looking for is something smaller, something that looks a lot like. It's been a year. Over five hundred thousand are dead in the US and none of us have had time to grieve, so focused on the future when restaurants and movie theaters can open at full capacity that we haven't been allowed to just sit in the loss to process what is ongoing. I have to face my current reality every day, it sucks, and I think trying to figure out what can sustain us right now is a noble pursuit because I need something.
We all need something. And even if the tank, the edibles and the shifting didn't, quote unquote work for me. At least I got a nap out of it. This episode was written and produced by B.J. Parker, along with the cut team, Allison Berringer, Jasmine Aguilera and ME executive produced by Stella Buckbee and Hanna Rosin with editorial support from the Shock Kawa mixed and scored by Brandon McFarland special thanks to Alice while they're carrying the cadenas, Marianne McCune, Patrick de Silva, Dr.
Enga, Cipha Grinker and Rashelle. Oh, we are a production of the Cut in New York magazine. Subscribe today to support all of their work at the Cut Dotcom Slash Subscribe. I'm Avery Friedman. Thanks for listening. Uh.
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